This week sees the launch of a website to bring together the research and multiple projects which have taken place to tell the vastly untold stories of African lives in the Northern England. A celebratory event was held at TW Archives inviting many of the collaborators and members of the public to showcase the completed work. Show Racism the Red Card were honoured to attend the event and meet all of those involved.
Dr Beverley Prevatt Goldstein has dedicated many hours of labour and love co ordinating a working group to provide research which has resulted in resources which are exciting, educational and accessible to all. From school resources and booklets to digital guided walks of the city introducing us to many of the influential figures whose lives have impacted our region today.
Chi Onwurah Labour MP for Newcastle Upon Tyne Central spoke of how it has changed her perception of her own life and successes:
“The website focuses on North East history and it’s underrepresented communities, there is particular joy in bringing together stories of working people, women and people of colour when they are so often untold. The contribution of diverse ethnic groups is missing.
When I was growing up I did not know of other people of African descent in the North East ‘Onwurah’ was the only name I heard. I did not know Frederick Douglas had come to the Newcastle! I didn’t know any of these histories and it would have made such a difference to me and to others of African descent. Yes I am Newcastle’s first Black MP but I stand on the shoulders of all of those who came before me.
To understand ourselves we need to know the history of all of our groups of people, it is important that we celebrate our individual and diverse communities and the unity of our great city (and the best football club!).”
The discussions focused on education, Justine King Education Coordinator from Show Racism the Red Card who has also been involved in the project spoke of the need to move forward and ensure Black history is not confined to one month but embedded into the curriculum for all young people.
“We find that contributions are overlooked, I often wondered why we have to point out that somebody is ‘Black’? The answer being if you don’t, then it is often assumed they are not! We need to embed into education overall, as a youngster I was fascinated by space travel but it was only through watching ‘Hidden Figures’ that I learnt about Black’s women’s contribution, I drove here today using Sat Nav and only recently learnt it was invented by a Black woman.
The curriculum currently covers three topics of Black History and unfortunately these topics only present Black people in a position of need. We also need to teach the positive contribution to our society over the centuries to help breakdown stereotypes.”
Overall a theme which resonated from the event was the strength which is to be found in knowledge. We ended on the acknowledgement that there will be so many more stories which remain untold, with an open invitation to get in touch if you know of somebody or a story which is missing!
African Lives in Northern England
The launch is supported by TW Archives, the Discovery Museum is currently hosting an exhibition celebrating the lives of inspirational women, including Dr Beverley Prevatt Goldstein and Chi Onwurah, the exhibition focuses on exceptional women who enrich north east communities in medicine, healthcare, science, education, activism and politics.
Inspirational Women trail